It's Wednesday night in a Costa Mesa warehouse. For The Gromble, that means rehearsing until 1 a.m.
The Laguna Niguel-based rock band is preparing for its potential recognition at the Orange County Music Awards. The Gromble's Detroit Bar showcase on Jan. 3 proved successful, with a packed house and positive reviews. They're also gearing up to finish their latest album, which they hope to have out by the time the awards show comes in March.
The band is fronted by Spencer Askin, 21, who not only does vocals but also plays guitar and the occasional trumpet. He plays along with guitarists Trevin Eck, 23, and Steven Lindenfelser, 21, and keyboardist Jonathan Wallace, 29. The newest addition to the band, whom they credit for much of their new sound, is drummer Stefan Macarewich, 23.
The band members take a while to set up their new equipment, which they've been working hard at their day jobs to save up for. They practice against a green screen in the rear of Sparkhouse, a production company off Superior Avenue, where Macarewich and Wallace work by day.
Named after the headmaster in the mid-90s Nickelodeon cartoon "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters," The Gromble is known for tunes that sound a little bit Weezer, a little bit Pixies and a little bit all its own. They've played the local scene in relative obscurity but are familiar faces at La Cave and Detroit Bar.
However, the band members said, widespread attention toward them amped up after their first appearance at last year's Orange County Music Awards, where they were nominated for Best New Band.
"We had no idea that anyone had even heard of us," Askin said. "And after that, it was just playing around and making ourselves visible."
Askin, who writes most of the lyrics along with Lindenfelser, jokes as he calls them "sad, whiny white kids."
"Nothing else to complain about except for girls," he said.
As they practice tracks "Et Al," "Don't stand a chance" and "Jane," it's clear that the five-some has traded a bit — but not all — of their catchy, upbeat pop for a slightly more serious sound.
There's a more soulful, angsty quality in Askin's vocals compared with the band's first self-titled EP, recorded in 2010.
The frontman calls the new album "a lot darker than the last one."
There's one constant — their music still makes any audience want to shake with it.
The Gromble plays 10 p.m. Friday at the Culture Carnival in Santa Ana. For more information, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thegromble.